Tips for staying safe from a self defence and martial arts instructor

Keith Collyer
Keith Collyer

Keith Collyer, chief instructor of CROSS Krav Maga and Sifu of Crawley Wing Chun, shares his tips for staying safe:

Being a resident of Crawley for over 35 years now I have seen many changes, and one of the main changes, unfortunately is seeing how knife crime has impacted on our society and how nearly every week the front page of most papers reflect this and, sadly, a loss of another life.

Another mother burying her son, or father burying a daughter, there seems no regard for human life anymore and for some reason it seems to be getting worse.

I am not going to go on about the good old days where you sorted your differences out with fists, or when men were men and all that old mumbo jumbo, what I am going to talk about is the fact that we live in a less innocent world and need to be more aware of our surroundings to stay safe.

Seven top tips for staying safe:

1) Be aware of your surroundings, do not walk around with your iPod plugged in or looking at your phone, this makes you an easy target for predators and this is exactly what they are looking for. Be alert, look around, stand tall, make yourself a hard target. Watch out for things that stick out from the normal.

2) Be aware of your own inner feelings - ever get a “gut instinct”? Always act on it, get out of there, if something does not feel right it generally isn’t.

3) There’s a difference between being aware and paranoid, but do not let anyone invade your personal space unless you know and trust them. Keep distance, this gives you time to react and/or escape.

4) Get cabs home, especially if intoxicated at club kicking out time, this is when most trouble happens, especially at the weekends.

5) If parking the car, look for lit up areas, reverse into spaces so you can drive off straight away, always unlock the car when you’re next to it and always look around and keep keys in your hand. You can carry a personal attack alarm.

6) Wear sensible clothing, that means when you are coming home change your shoes. Heels or flip flops are not good for fighting or escaping, and yes that’s for the guys too!

7) Walk facing the traffic, this discourages kerb crawlers and means oncoming traffic can see you. Always walk to the outside of the pavement when turning a corner, never take short cuts through alleyways or parks after dark.


Most people think that self defence is composed of just striking: boxing type movements. In reality it’s those, but also many other things.

Self defence training prepares you to be able to protect yourself and your loved ones within the law, by using reasonable force. It’s been specially designed to teach two main concepts.

1) Personal security measures, or Soft skills - street smart tactics geared towards awareness and avoidance.

2) Physical applications, or Hard skills, that will allow us to eliminate the threat if we cannot avoid or escape.

So, two parts, personal security geared towards avoidance and hand to hand physical skills to deal with a real threat or attack.

Self defence training sessions are part ‘soft’ and part ‘hard’ skills and the ‘hard skills’ are basic principle based, this means you can defend yourself under adrenal pressure using basic gross motor combatives that work under fear and pressure, you will learn basic hand to hand defence, striking, power generation, target areas, defending from grabs and chokes, hair pulls, ground survival, multiple attacker defence, and escaping, as well as how to deal with weapons. The ‘soft skills’ will teach you about mind set, common sense, de-escalation, awareness, motivation, physiology, psychology, perception and will have scenario training exercises to test what you have learned under some pressure. We also have body armour so you can test all of your knowledge in the sessions.

Most martial arts training out there is too complex to learn over a short time, and lacks the psychological training needed to avoid, be aware and push past the fear factor in order to survive. We include all the relevant information to get a basic solid foundation to help you stay safe.

So is self defence training worth it?

Well it depends on many factors - where you live, your financial position, time restraints, but even with these considerations it can also mean: How much do you value your life?

Let’s be honest, we live in a fairly safe country compared to many, but training is also like an insurance policy - better to have the knowledge and not have to use it than the other way around. It’s also fun, gets you fit, builds confidence and make you less of a target.

We train heavily in defending against weapons, this may seem over cautious but as far as I am concerned we take our students’ lives seriously and teach how to deal with all basic situations if needed, I train in other reality based self defence systems, some edged weapon based, and work hard to promote awareness of edged weapons and how to deal with them if escaping is not an option.

We offer bespoke courses and seminars for corporate clients and also the Emergency services, also training discounts for the Police, Ambulance, Nursing staff and Fire crews.

If you do want self defence training in this area then we teach CROSS Krav Maga and Wing Chun Martial Art at the Snakepit Gym, Hut 4, Tilgate Park.

1st session is free, for more details look at our website at or

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.

1) Make our website your homepage at

2) Like our Facebook page at

3) Follow us on Twitter @Crawley_Obby

4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!

The Crawley Observer - always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.